Review | Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Sophomores in 1986, Eleanor and Park is the story of two star-crossed misfits. Eleanor is an overweight red head who comes from a broken home, and Park is a Korean loner or sorts. Park unwillingly makes room for Eleanor (the new kid) to sit by him on the bus. Days and weeks pass without Eleanor and Park uttering a word to one another, but a school bus is a strange place and it isn’t too long before the two teens fall head over heels for each other.

Oh Eleanor and Park, overall you’ve got yourself a pretty great love story. Unfortunately, because of your ‘edgy’ content, I just can’t recommend you to all the wonderful people I like recommending books to; ESPECIALLY because you’re meant to be for teens and teens are about the last people on Earth that I want to read this book.

I was hearing SO much amazing buzz about this book that I bumped it in front of a handful of others I’ve been anxious to read. And though overall I didn’t like the book, I can understand some of the praise for it. It is well written. The characters seem real, believable, and likable/hate-able. I seriously LOVE Park’s character. A lot of the dialogue between Eleanor and Park is awesome and there were a handful of times that I was laughing out loud while reading it.

Eleanor and Park’s love story is sweet, sincere, and an eat-it-up “we were meant for each other” type story. I also thought the book dealt well with some heavy subjects: spouse/child abuse, bullying, crappy parents, drug use. I just really got hung up on the ‘edgy’ content.

I have never read a book with more swear words (maybe a tie with Catcher in the Rye?). And not just swear words, but the mother of all swear words. F, F, F. F this, F that, F you, F, F, F. Okay f-word, get over yourself in this book! We are talking 1980s, sophomore in high school. Maybe it would be more likely in today’s high schools, I over hear young people saying the f-word at the grocery store and library occasionally. But when I was in junior high… I never heard the f-word and in high school, rarely. I get that Eleanor has the worst step-dad ever that says the f-word, but I still don’t think that would have resulted in so many f-words from her. I’m probably just sheltered, so whatever, let’s move on to the next thing that bugged.

Eleanor and Park majorly, majorly make out throughout this book. We are talking heavy, heavy petting. Like, everything but sex. I know, I know, teens do this kind of stuff (and I’m sheltered). But this book just glorifies it. If you want your teen thinking about how awesome it would be to have her boyfriend exploring all her privates, give your teen this book. I’ve never read a ‘bodice ripper’ book, so I couldn’t tell you how this compares to a romance novel, but I think this book is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to one. (As I write this I’m asking myself why I didn’t set the book down midway because of all the ‘edgy’ content in it.)


Overall Rating:  2 of 5 stars false

Parent’s guide:

  • Sex: teens kissing, heavy petting, teens thinking about sex, references to lusting after someone, heavy make-out scenes
  • Language: If you like the f-word, read this book. Other swear words including diety, crass sexual terms
  • Violence: references to spousal abuse, child abuse, bullying at school
  • Mature Themes: abuse, a teen needing to move out cause of it being unsafe in her home, bullying, drug/alcohol use
  • Amy

    I read a book similar to this and I felt the same way about A) Why is it a young adult book when it is so obviously NOT what young adults should be saying, doing, glorifying or thinking about and B) Why did I read the whole blasted thing instead of putting it down?!? Some of the topics were good topics to explore, but they should not have been explored by teens pretending to be adults. Why do we have to throw adult problems on kids? It’s almost like we can’t handle them as adults so we’ll pretend to deal with them vicariously through teenage characters because maybe by the time adult characters live them its too late? I don’t know. Too bad though because maybe the author has something important to say and it gets lost in “selling out” to being popular with teenagers and adults who still want to be teenagers.